Western Grandstand: Asafa deserves maximum respect
While Asafa Powell will probably not leave the global stage with as many medals as some of his track and field counterparts, I am delighted he seems poised to walk away as the first athlete in history to run 100 sub-10 second races over 100 metres.
Like many other Jamaicans, I have had my issues with Powell over the years, especially when he goes into major championships looking quite sharp, sparkles going through the rounds and then ends up flopping in the finals. That aside, I can't say I have ever had a reason to question his commitment to Jamaica.
While it might be true that Powell lacks the so-called killer instinct, which usually gives athletes the much-needed big race temperament, I still believe his greatest issue is perhaps fear of failure, which is driven by his desire to do well so that all Jamaica can be proud of his accomplishments.
Although Powell is not as decorated an athlete as many feel that he should be, I am hoping that history will be very kind to him, knowing that he came along in an era that produced arguably the greatest sprinters of all time.
Personally, I believe he has done enough to earn himself a slot alongside some of our great male standard-bearers Herb McKenley, George Rhoden and Donald Quarrie.
It was therefore with much joy that I greeted the recent news that Powell had made the Guinness Book of Records as the record holder of the 'Most Competitive 100m Sprint Races Completed in Sub 10 seconds. While probably not on the scale of an Olympic gold medal, it speaks volume for his consistency.
With the 2017 IAAF Diamond League season now in full flow and Powell seemingly in decent form, I am hoping that before we celebrate our 55th year of political Independence, he would have crossed over from his current 97 sub-10s mark to the magical 100 figure, which would give the nation something extra to celebrate.
While I know the value that is placed on an individual Olympic gold medal, I don't believe the absence of one from Powell's collection should detract from his amazing consistency and longevity. When the incomparable Usain Bolt came along, Powell was there and now with Bolt announcing his departure timetable, it looks a certainty that Powell will be here when he is gone.
Except for one infraction, which in my opinion was not justified, Powell has been an exemplary athlete. Unlike many who have used performance enhancing drugs to tilt the playing field in their favour, Powell has soldiered along the 'clean' path, which made him a credit to the sport.
While I know that the norm is usually to seek to immortalise those athletes that have won multiple medals at major championships, I nonetheless believe that due recognition should be given to Powell for earning a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Over the years, we have had many sporting personalities, who in biblical terms 'have fought the good fight' but have not finished the course, opting to pack their bags early, while still fully capable of giving much more at the highest level. The fact that Powell has chosen not to walk away, despite his many disappointments, tells me that, despite all that has been said, his commitment to the sport is solid.
While not apologising for some of the things I have written about Powell in some of my moments of extreme disappointment with one or two of his performances, I feel compelled to salute him as a Jamaican who has made his mark and deserve the full respect of the nation Big Up ASAFA!